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Classement et lexique animal dans les sources cunéiformes

Réflexions méthodologiques et étude de cas autour de l’animal-ur.ki

Vérène Chalendar

Abstract

This paper deals with the methodological issues involved in reconstructing Mesopotamian zoological knowledge, and also with the difficult task of identifying species from the information provided by the cuneiform sources. Through the case study of the animal designated by the sumerogram ur.ki, for which the dictionaries suggest various identifications – dog, badger, or even worm – we explore the Mesopotamian vision of fauna, which already seems to attest to an organized conceptual system elaborated by Mesopotamian scholars concerning their natural environment. We also examine the manipulation of the lexical documentation related to zoological « taxonomy », and lexical matters, which though broadly used, requires extreme caution. ur.ki provides a perfect case study, since it is already attested in the Old Babylonian forerunner to the lexical list ur5.ra = ḫubullu, and remains documented in the later version of this list, but also in some scholarly texts. It allows a chronological survey that aims at retracing the understanding of a sumerogramm and considering the question of the evolution of zoological knowledge in Mesopotamia.

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Published Online: 2019-07-11
Published in Print: 2019-07-10

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